Category Archives: Egyptian

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness, by Jaq White with reference to Bika Reed

In the text known as papyrus 3024 from the Berlin Museum, known by names such as “Man tired with his life”, “Man in conversation with his Soul”, “Man arguing with his Soul” we can perhaps study one of the earliest accounts of the confrontation with the ego. In 1978, Bika Reed translated the text from the perspective of the initiatic experience.

“The stubborn, passionate, long-suffering ass is the perfect natural symbol of our rational personality. It bears, like the ass, the weight of all our suffering, and carries us through life. It is stubborn, selfish and refuses to go where we think we best.
Yet paradoxically, it is the same stubborn ass, and only the ass, that can carry the Rebel to salvation; mounted upon the ass, man is mounted upon his own rebellion. The ass is the father of all rebels, but also the carrier of redemption.” – from “The Rebel in the Soul” by Bika Reed.

In Ancient Egypt, Iai, the Great Ass, is the aspect of the Sun God with Ass’s ears.  This is Osiris in his listening state; listening equalled wisdom to the Ancient Egyptians. The Book of the Gates depicts the progression of the sun through the night. The Twelve Hours of Night are depicted as regions of the Underworld. Each region is an Hour, and each Hour has its gate through which to pass. To pass, we must know the name of the gatekeeper, or guardian.

This is the same as identifying the layers of egos we each have within – an ego is what others might call one of the deadly sins, Pride, Envy, Greed…all those different aspects of the personality that can prevent us from progressing through the gates or stages of spiritual development.  When we look inwardly at the aspects of our personality that rule or affect our lives, we need to recognise what is affecting our spiritual progress; if we learn to use it wisely and become its master, instead of it being master over us, we then recognise the Guardian of that Gate – can name the Guardian, and can “pass through the Gate”

Consciousness moves from Gate to Gate. In Ancient Egypt, life and consciousness were synonymous. To be dead meant to be un-awakened and inert, moved like a leaf in the wind. To be dead, meant to be in a state of consciousness preceding consciousness or “life”.  In the section of the Ninth Hour, a crisis menaces the Solar Barque as it passes through the hours of the night. A double monster, half snake half crocodile, SHES-SHES, approaches the boat

The ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren (name), the Ba (similar to our concept of a soul, but also similar to ‘reputation’, the Ka (vital spark or essence that departs at the moment of death), the Sheut (referred to by Egyptologists as the Shadow – a person could not exist without a shadow and a shadow couldn’t exist with the person), and the Ib (metaphysical heart – the heart was believed to contain all the thought, will, intention; hence, after death, the Ib heart was weighed at the moment of judgement. If it weighed more than the feather of Maat (truth, universal law akin to Dharma) a “heavy heart”was consumed immediately by the monster, Ammit) .

Following the death of the Khat (body), the Ba and Ka were reunited to reanimate the Akh – translated as “the effective one”.

From the Eighteenth Dynasty tomb of Paheri, we have a description of this:

“Your life happening again, without your ba being kept away from your divine corpse, with your ba being together with the akh … You shall emerge each day and return each evening. A lamp will be lit for you in the night until the sunlight shines forth on your breast. You shall be told: “Welcome, welcome, into this your house of the living!”

In the argument with his Ba, the man is bargaining for the right to die because he can no longer face the suffering of living in this world without his mentor. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that a man and his Ba would be judged together in the afterlife; the Ba can make appeals on his behalf.  So the man is arguing with his Ba to persuade it that killing himself is the correct thing to do, as he wants it to accept his reasons, and agree with him so that it will stay with him after death and make favourable appeals. However, his Ba has other ideas..

“I spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbour’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

 

Hearts are great with greed

and there is no heart of a man or woman upon which one might lean.

None are just or righteous and the land is left to the doers of evil.

To whom shall I speak today?

There are no intimate friends

and the people turn to strangers to tell their troubles.

None are content and those with whom one used to walk no longer exist.

I am burdened with grief and have no one to comfort me.

There is no end to the wrong which roams the earth.

When we consider the age of this text, from  XII Dynasty  Egypt (approx 1991-1783 bc), we can see that the nature of the woes and troubles of humankind have changed very little.

This is where the text can also be read as a text of initiation.

The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.  It tells him some allegorical stories – the first being the “mythical field of transformations”; both the field AND the plough are to be found within man. The field is the ground; the earth, where the soul of the man dwells, and is to be cultivated by the ploughman – the man must “cultivate” himself.

The harvest is what is then offered back to the soul. The “harvest”, what is left of the man after his life, is in dangerous hands if left uncultivated. It is exposed to a “storm from the North” said to indicate the Head (Reason); the storm is consciousness threatened by intellectual rebellion.
The man at this point in the story, when his Rebel/ego is arguing for survival, is not yet ready to let the wisdom of his heart rule his intellect, and this is symbolised by the crocodile. The man’s heirs, in the story he is told by his soul, are eaten by a crocodile whilst still in the egg, before they are fully formed, before they have lived, and will never realise their potential.

Image

The ‘heir’ in the egg symbolises what the cultivated man could become. Here we can see it as an unborn Akh.

The Man’s Ba is teaching him that The Great Ass, the ego and False Self,  must be sacrificed to the crocodile. Unless this sacrifice is made, the man cannot travel further through the Hours of the Night to the light of dawn;  he will never integrate with his mystical body and be re-born.

Anubis, the god of the Underworld, is also the god of helping us realise our full potential, as protector of the Soul in its journey through the Underworld.

Reed tells us:

“The Ancient Egyptian Myth which describes the birth of the redeemer, Anubis, gives us an insight into this dramatic turning, or birth into higher consciousness. In this myth, the jackal god is pursuing Seth, the Enemy of Light, who takes the form of a panther and escapes the dog.

But the mother dog, Isis, sees the panther and catches up. Terrified of the wild bitch, the panther transforms himself into the dog, his own pursuer. But Isis digs her teeth into his back. Caught, Seth cries, “Why are you pursuing this poor dog who does not exist?” The myth then says “And this is how he became. HE BECAME (IN PU) is the Egyptian name for Anubis, the first Priest of Osiris. The Redeemer (IN PU) only comes to life by seeing his own “inexistence”

In other words, we will only reach our full potential when we ‘pursue’ ourselves, and by doing this – the Work on the Self: cultivation, we will understand the need to sacrifice our false identity. Our ego will argue for its own survival, and this Rebel will put up the greatest fight, until we recognise it for what it is – a false non-existent self – and are born into higher consciousness, as our own “heir”.

The man shows he has understood:

In truth, he who is yonder will be a living god,
punishing the crime of him who does it.

In truth, he who is yonder will stand in the Bark of the Sun,
making its bounty flow  to the temples.

In truth, he who is yonder will be a wise man,
who cannot, when he speaks, be stopped
from appealing to Re !

His Ba answers:

Throw complaint over the fence,
you my comrade, my brother!
May you make offering upon the brazier,  and cling to life by the means you describe! Yet love me here, having put aside the West!
[the West is where the deceased goin the Ancient Egyptian belief system]

But when it is wished that you attain the West, that your body joins the earth, then I shall alight after you have become weary, and then we shall dwell together!”

Commentary on the Book of Gates

Further insights on Berlin Papyrus 3024  http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/ba.htm